How a Digital India Couture Week Will Come to Life During COVID-19

No live fashion shows! With recorded fashion films that play online, FDCI plans a digital India Couture Week.

3 min read
How FDCI made a digital couture week a reality.

Organising a fashion week is no joke. There are multiple departments that work in tandem - hair, makeup, production, backstage teams, designers, models, gaffers, security. The list goes on and on. Can you imagine all this happening with sanitisation, face masks and adequate social distancing? Probably not. But Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) has decided to spin things and do a fashion week this year - digitally.

"We were hoping against hope that we will be able to do India Couture Week in July end or August. All our bookings were made and we didn't cancel them because way back in March end we thought that it may just take about couple of months for things to clear up," says Sunil Sethi, the chairman of FDCI.

"Earlier, we thought that a fashion show will not be a possibility. We thought that we will have to have computer-aided models and have them wear the clothes and manage everything digitally," says Sethi.

Sethi says that the unlock process came as relief. Now about 50 people can work together while taking precautions and having protocols in place on the worksite. The 50 people mark allowed to FDCI was enough for them to be able to shoot and then present the event digitally.

The idea of a fashion week was always there, he says, but the execution process kept changing with the COVID guidelines in different parts of the country. Sethi says that due to strict rules on flying in and out of West Bengal, this year the line-up didn't allow them to have designers from Bengal. Added to that he says, designers were willing to work with the number of craftsmen they had on their hands.

How is a Fashion Show Possible Digitally?

For this season of Indian Couture Week, Sethi says, they kept changing ideas and having rounds of discussions with the designers. All designers were given the freedom to choose locations and plan their own fashion film. Designers will have pre-recorded and edited fashion films which will be presented on show on FDCI's social media and YouTube channel which will be open for viewing to all.

It’s the same difference as watching theatre and a movie. When you do theatre, you don’t have the room to make mistakes. When you have a film, you can go back, shoot and record again and fix errors. This format of doing pre-recorded films gives designers the golden opportunity to focus on the details that they might want to emphasise on.
Sunil Sethi, FDCI Chairman

FDCI says they have provided models and services at a discounted price to the designers. "Our building facility in Delhi has been made available free of cost for any fashion film shoot," says Sethi.

The non-profit organisation has also taken measures to provide a platform for designers to come together, showcase and fulfil the demands for the coming wedding season in India. "I must mention that the major cost of the fashion show film has been taken on by the designers themselves. Some of them wanted to shoot at a heritage location, some wanted to have a more sophisticated hotel backdrop and we gave them the freedom to incorporate all these," says Sunil Sethi.

Why Now? 

Weddings don't stop, but do people wish to spend as much as they did during the pre-COVID era on luxury items? According to Sethi, yes. "A bride would still want to look a certain way on her wedding day. Her sister, mother, close family will want to dress up for the occasion. In India, unlike the rest of the world we have a plethora of options for men too. One of the designers is only showcasing options for men. And we have a massive wedding season coming in the months ahead. The gathering might not be as big as they used to be but people would want to look their best for that special day," says Sethi.

According to Sethi, designers still have their calendars booked for meetings with clients who are about to get married and want to go that extra mile to get the focused attention of their favourite designer for their wedding outfit. Sethi says there's an impending demand from clients abroad who cannot travel to India to shop and the India Couture Week will give them a chance to choose what they like from fresh collections.

"We were able to do a successful fashion film shoot in our office, where we have the models, the designer, the lights, video production and it all went smoothly. That's the demand of the time right now, to be able to adapt," says Sethi.

Indian Couture Week starts on 18 September and goes on till 23 September. The couture week will be featuring 12 eminent designers including Amit Aggarwal, Anju Modi, Falguni Shane Peacock, Gaurav Gupta, Manish Malhotra, Shantanu & Nikhil, among others.

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